Prove your humanity

Veteran journalist Andrew Revkin has an appreciation for nuance. You can hear it in his take on the super-recent past of the Trump administration’s big, early moves on the environment; and why he thinks the big-picture debate on climate change is way more complicated than most of us realize.

For instance, in our interview with him for the Trump on Earth podcast, Revkin blew things up a little for us when he said that the oft-repeated claim that the science on climate change is “settled” is a rather coarse translation of where the research actually stands.

“Any time someone says ‘the science is settled,’ that’s kind of a dodge. The basics are clear: Yeah, the climate is changing and humans are contributing to it. But that’s not the question.

“There’s profound uncertainty in climate science still. We still don’t know if the world will warm a little over 1 degree Celsius or 4 or 5 degrees Celsius by later this century from the same CO2 buildup. That’s called the “sensitivity question” — how sensitive the climate system is to a nudge in CO2. It’s still highly uncertain, and it looks like it’s durably uncertain.

“So the perfect question to ask is, given what science has determined about global warming — which is that everything that’s happened since 1950 is essentially our doing and there’s substantial warming ahead with levels that are still unclear but worrisome — what should be done? That’s the question society faces.

“This is not a believer or non-believer issue. It’s not binary. It’s a gradient. And society has to figure out how to invest now to limit those risks going forward through this century. It’s way harder to have that conversation.”

Ready for more? You can get everything from Revkin’s take on Trump’s first week to the “multi-millennial” consequences of 21st-century climate policy in this week’s episode of Trump on Earth.

About this week’s Trump on Earth guest: 
Andrew Revkin has been writing about climate change since the 1980s. He’s won numerous awards for his writing at the New York Times, where he was a reporter for two decades. He now writes the Times’ Dot Earth blog. He recently joined the investigative news site ProPublica and has already broken stories on the turmoil inside the EPA under the Trump administration.